Do you judge a book by its cover? Part Two

My guest today is Anita B. Carroll, the wonderful lady who designed the new cover for my novel, The Wind Weeps. Anita will explain what is involved in designing book covers and if you are in the market for a book cover, you can’t go wrong by checking out her qualifications, her portfolio, and her very reasonable prices.

Here’ s Anita:

How important do you think your cover design is? Is it worth it to spend the money on a professional designer? That’s a good question and you would expect me, a designer, to push for hiring a pro.

However, when you look at the facts, the question really is, can you afford not to hire a designer?  I welcome you to read an article I wrote for KOBO Writing Life, where I show the effect the cover designs have on the book sales, in numbers:  http://kobowritinglife.com/2013/11/22/weve-got-you-covered-friday-lets-talk-numbers/

Selling a book is an art form in itself, and there are some important areas to factor in to not only help reach your target readers, but most importantly to increase your book sales.  Selling your book will probably be the biggest challenge you are going to face, and what it really boils down to is the packaging, delivery, and the value — which I talk about in more detail in this blog post:

http://race-point.com/2015/03/03/authorbranding/

Some samples of my work:

iamsarah_web

cover_prophecy

B1

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From behind the scenes of a cover designer

I thought it might be interesting to talk about how the cover design process works and what to look for in a cover designer.

The cover design process is probably a lot more in-depth than you might think. Just like writing a manuscript for your story, designing a high quality cover that is a true representation of your story, takes time, research, and patience.

Every cover designer’s process, is different.  I come from a background with website User Interface Design and Development with focus on product development, which is also known as brand identity. So in my world, to design for a product, you have to fully understand it and for me the best way to do just that is to read your story.

After reading it, I will have a set of questions for you which will help ensure we are both on the same page and your vision and expectations are met.

Once we finalize the concept, I begin searching for stock imagery or do a custom photo shoot, which I present to you for  final approval. Once we settle on imagery I begin designing and do send off a cover sample to you for your review to give you a chance to give me any edits/tweaks. Once the revision is complete, so is the cover design.

The whole process can take anything from 24 hours to 2 months. It varies from one cover project to another.

Here are some tips to keep in mind for finding that right cover designer:

  1. View their online portfolio. Make sure the designer’s design style fits your vision. Understanding the difference between an illustrator and a digital manipulation designer is helpful.
  2. Provide your designer with ample time. The more time you give the designer to work on your cover, the better it will be. This gives us time to really think the design through and create a much more involved design.
  3. If you have something specific in mind provide samples. Pictures are always better than descriptions, especially when it comes to colors.
  4. Know that you don’t have to know what you want. We are trained and will help you brainstorm great ideas. The more specific you are, the more restricted we feel and you could stand to lose out on a great concept, since we always will work our hardest giving you what you want. Always.
  5. And lastly, keep in mind the cover design does not have to be literal, but focus more on the emotion the imagery represents.

Best of luck!

About the cover designer:

Anita B. Carroll, at Race-Point.com is a Visual Design provider with over 18 years of creative professional experience, and produces high-end quality cover creations for both print and online mediums including custom photography.

Anita works primarily with self-published authors in addition to freelance for publishing companies.

Learn more about Anita (http://race-point.com/about-2/ )and view her cover works. http://race-point.com/portfolio/

Get a quote:  http://race-point.com/quote/

Do you judge a book by its cover?

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I used to believe and follow that advice. I’ve read some excellent books that came “in a plain brown wrapper.”

Years ago, when most hardcover books came in  plain cloth or hard paper covers, not illlustrated, a discerning reader had to look for a synopsis on the inside of the flap jacket  to decide whether the book might be more interesting than its cover.

When paperbacks came out, covers of the classics and non-fiction books were still plain. Then a new kind of paperback with illustrated covers hit the market. Yes, there were a few good books among these, but many covers were associated with a lesser quality of writing or cheesier topics. Often a cheap photo or drawing attempted to lure a reader into buying.

Times have changed. Now that everyone is a writer, the market is more competitive and since most authors want to realize some sales now rather than 100 years after their death, they resort to a flashy advertising campaign. And it works!

Put a boring plain cover next to a flashy modern one, and it’s no contest. The eye, and hand, are almost always drawn to the flashier cover. Of course, in the end, the real test still lies in the text between the front and back covers of the book.

Anita B. Carroll has helped bring me into the modern age of competitive book covers. With her amazing imagination she has created a new cover for my novel, The Wind Weeps.

After reading the book, she said it had the same suspense as the movie Sleeping With the Enemy starring Julia Roberts. I was so pleased that she found it to be a page turner.

For the novel, The Wind Weeps, I had thought of book cover images with a stormy ocean,  a desperate young woman, perhaps a boat … but none of these images conveyed the terror that is also a part of this love story. Andrea’s husband brings her orchids. Perhaps orchids could feature in the cover? But the cover image can’t be too rosy (sorry for the pun). It is also a dark story – the kind of darkness that makes you want to turn the page, looking for the light.

In the end, I told Anita, “Just forget my ideas and see what you come up with.”

She really came through for me. I was shocked at first because it was so different from what I expected, but she has captured all the elements of the story. The delicate orchid, the tears dripping from it into a desolate ocean; love gone wrong. The red sky symbolizing (for me) pain and fear, and the dark, rough ocean symbolizing Andrea’s remote isolation and desperation.

Here is Anita B. Carroll’s amazing creation for The Wind Weeps. This novel is available at all amazon outlets, and at smashwords.com

WEB_WRAP_2If you are looking for someone to design and create your next book cover, why not give Anita B. Carroll a try?

Anita’s  contact information:

www.race-point.com

Passion Patrol Series – Shannon’s Law

Thank you so much for letting me showcase my forthcoming steamy action-romance novel SHANNON’S LAW. It’s  the second in my PASSION PATROL series – stories where sassy female cops lock up the criminals and always get their man.

Photo A Shannon's Law Tour - print and digital

February marks the start of my “Pinterest Reveal Virtual Book Tour” in the run-up to the launch on the 28th February 2014.

Every day there are feature posts on topics relating to SHANNON’S LAW on blogs all around the world.  They’re all linked together on one big Pinterest Board. Each post replaces a ‘mystery’ silhouette that was posted in January. I saved all  my notes and photos as I was writing, on a private Pinterest Board and now I can share them with you.

Today’s subject is:  The Food of Love – Cop’s Kitchen – a companion recipe book to Shannon’s Law – Devils on Horseback

All-action all-loving cops need fuel. In the course of Shannon’s Law she and others chomp their way through a fair bit of food.  As I was writing it occurred to me that readers might like to experience some of the dishes for themselves. So it was that Cop’s Kitchen came into being. Where a dish is mentioned I have created a recipe.  All the food has been tried out  at home. Now you can too. The color photos are all my own work as well.  As a special treat during the run-up to launch of Shannon’s Law –  every reader who enters the Rafflecopter Draw below gets a FREE digital  copy of Cop’s Kitchen!

Photo C Shannon's Law Cop's Kitchen art

Shannon is a working girl. Between love and crime action she often has little time to consider her diet let alone slave at the stove or go shopping for herbs and spices.  As a true English girl she is well acquainted with take-out fish and chips. She has a favorite curry house to beat anything she could make. Although she buys some dishes ready made, I have recreated the real thing in my own way, using traditional methods. Very often it is the police canteen that keeps her fueled up for drama and passion. My ex-cop partner appears to have spent a lot of his career sustained by a famous police dish – Sausage Toad with chips. In the book, Shannon has an important meeting with her boss over such a feast.

Excerpt:

“Now, that’s what I call true Force feeding!” he said.

Shannon laughed and treated the delicacy with brown HP sauce. She missed stuff like this in her new life. Her hips were cheering. They sat down by the window looking out onto the urban swirl of cars and Croydon concrete.

 

A recipe from Cop’s Kitchen to whet your appetite: Devils on Horseback 

These little dainties are served as one of a selection of canapé appetizers at a reception at Bloxington Manor after a cricket match.  They are the most unlikely combination but are utterly delicious blend of salt and sweet.  Traditionalists say to use prunes but I prefer unctuous dates – you could try either.  They are quite rich so if served with other appetizers you may only need 3-4 per person.

Shannon's Law Post 10 Photo devils on horseback

Ingredients to make 24:

8 rashers of bacon (streaky is best but back bacon will do.)

24 dates – pitted.

fresh sage leaves or dried if unavailable.

Olive oil.

wooden cocktail sticks.

 

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400 degF, 200degC.
  2. Using the blunt edge of a knife, carefully stretch each bacon slice to 1.5 times its length.
  3. Cut each rasher into 3.
  4. Take a date (or prune) and roll one slice of bacon around it.  Pin in place with a cocktail stick through the whole thing.
  5. Put some olive oil on a saucer and dip a sage leaf into the oil. (skip if using dried basil)
  6. Stick the sage leaf onto the ‘devil’.
  7. Place on a baking tray.
  8. If using dried sage, when all the devils are finished, sprinkle with olive oil and dried sage.
  9. Place in oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  10. Release with a metal slice and serve whilst warm.

 

Book Blurb

Shannon's Law 1MB

Wild child inner-city cop Shannon Aguerri walks a dangerous line between her methods and justice. When the bosses lose their nerve, after yet another maverick mission, she is transferred to green pastures to play out the role of a routine village cop. When she encounters signs of slave and drug trafficking she homes in on serious millionaire criminals.

As a loner she has attracted men but nothing has stuck. When she meets Spencer, the hunky and widowed Earl of Bloxington, there is an immediate rapport between them. Their social differences mean nothing to their passion and need.

Already in the mix is an upper class female rival – who has long plotted her way into the Earl’s bed. The jealousy is an evil shade of green and the anger is a violent scarlet.

Often inhibited by a sense of duty and honour, Spencer is slow to reveal his feelings. When Shannon confronts him with the need to choose between her word and that of her rival, he does not immediately support her.

All issues are set aside, when they are forced together to carry out a desperate rescue mission. Their love is stronger than everything ranged against them.

SHANNON’S LAW comes out on February 28th 2014 in print and digital formats for all e-readers. 

Amazon is offering some great discounts for pre-orders of the paperback version

(29% off in USA,     12% off in the UK).

You can pre-order the digital version at a pre-launch special price from Nook, Kobo, and iTunes. It will also be available in all digital formats on Smashwords

See this post and others from my tour as they go live on Pinterest

Follow Shannon’s Law on Facebook

Visit the Shannon’s Law Website for book details and pre-order information.

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RAFFLECOPTER DRAW

Win Amazon vouchers, copies of the book PLUS a free gift for every entrant (see prizes below).

ENTER DRAW HERE : http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Mjg1OTEwYzI5YjYwMjA3ZWY2Y2EzZDEzODljNmNjOjE5/

 

The draw will be made at random, by Rafflecopter on the 7th March 2013. 

 

Companion Cookbook

In addition to SHANNON’S LAW, I’m launching a companion digital cookbook with illustrated recipes for all the meals from the novel.

 It’s called  COP’S KITCHEN – Read the love story and taste the romance!

To celebrate the launch of SHANNON’S LAW, there is a special FREE gift for you in my RAFFLECOPTER draw. As well as great, unique prizes to win, EVERY ENTRANT will get their own digital copy of – COP’S KITCHEN. There are many ways to get bonus chances – by commenting on this post, liking Facebook Pages etc.

ENTER DRAW HERE: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Mjg1OTEwYzI5YjYwMjA3ZWY2Y2EzZDEzODljNmNjOjE5/

Photo C Shannon's Law Cop's Kitchen art

Main Prizes in the Draw:

$30/£20/€25 Amazon Gift Voucher, 2 paperback copies of Shannon’s Law, 3 digital copies of Shannon’s Law.

Shannon’s Law comes out in paperback and digital formats for all e-readers

on February 28th 2014.

Photo D - Shannon's Law all Emma Calin's books

Emma Calin’s Website

Emma Calin’s Twitter

Emma Calin’s Facebook

About.me page: http://about.me/emmacalin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4915751.Emma_Calin

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This post is part of the

“SHANNON’S LAW PRE-LAUNCH PINTEREST REVEAL

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR”

Follow the other posts in February to see the background to the story unfold.

 via the PINTEREST BOARD for Shannon’s Law

or via the individual blogs around the world here

Confessions of a Graphic Designer

 anitacarroll_anneli

Today, I would like to welcome my guest, Anita B. Carroll.

She is a designer of book covers and has some great tips for authors.

Anita has offered to share:

12 things every author should know when working with a book cover designer

1. Should you hire a professional to design your cover and what about the cost?

The simple answer is, yes absolutely!  I know several self-published authors who design their own covers.  Some do it because they want to, and others because they simply can’t afford to hire a professional.

My advice is do what you do best, and leave the rest to the professionals. Ask yourself  objectively; Does this cover represent my story?   Does the cover represent my identity as an author? Does it look professional?

Your book cover is a representation of your work as an author.   It is part of your brand identity.  Most readers will see the cover before having the chance to read an excerpt from the book.  If it doesn’t look like the author put much effort into the presentation, most likely the potential reader will just gloss over it.  You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.Steve Forbes

Learn more about brand identity and why you really need it.

What about the cost? Many designers have flexible pricing.  Even some who are just starting out can still create awesome works for you.  So please, don’t assume you can’t afford it.  Do some research.

Don’t let the assumption of high cost discourage you.  Every project is different and the price will reflect this. Just send the designer an email and ask what they would charge for your project.

Every designer works differently and charges differently.  I definitely recommend using a designer that charges per project, since you can’t really be sure that the designer uses the hours they give you, and it can get rather costly, quickly.  I can spend anything from 5 hours to a month on a cover.  This is why I charge per project, and don’t offer an hourly rate.  Every project is different and I try to be as flexible as possible when proposing a quote.  I always take into consideration the author’s budget and timeline.

Good quality designs will cost from US $50+/hr and up. Be sure you look over the details and have a mutual agreement as to what the fee includes. A base fee of US $125+ for a project is to be expected.  I have seen good quality pre-made book cover offerings as low as US $149.   Also, a full-blown custom cover design can run between US $250 and US $2000. As you can see the range is quite large.  More commonly, a custom cover is around US $400 to $800.

2. Define YOUR style to find the RIGHT designer for YOUR project.

Decide what type of design and art you envision to represent your story.  In graphic design there are many types of designers, just as there are many specialties within the medical field.  If you are looking for illustrations, i.e. hand drawings, your best bet would be to find an illustrator with this type of work in their portfolio.  However, if you want to use a photo for your cover, a digital art manipulation artist, such as myself, is what you are looking for.

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 Before and After – Photo Digital Art Manipulation: Anita B. Carroll.

3.  Assess the designer’s quality of work

Finding a designer that has the style you are looking for is half the battle, and equally crucial is assessing the designer’s work prior to hiring them for your project.  Always ask for a sample of their previous work.  Any experienced designer will welcome this request.  When a client contacts me, even if they don’t request to see my portfolio, I will offer it.  It is very important to me that I meet their expectations up front and that my design style is what the author is looking for.   I need to be certain that you are looking for something that I can deliver, or it can end up being a waste of time for both of us.

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Graphic Design by Anita B. Carroll.

4.  Look outside the box

So, you have defined the design style for your cover and have researched several cover artists, but perhaps just can’t seem to find that RIGHT cover designer?  Think outside the box by keeping an open mind.  Don’t judge a designer’s portfolio by how many book covers they have done in the past.  Instead analyze how the designer uses typography within their design work, and their layout capabilities.  This speaks volumes of their skill set as a graphic designer.

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 Graphic Design by Anita B. Carroll.

5. Understand the EFFECT of TYPOGRAPHY

It might be that you hire an illustrator to do a drawing, and are tempted to just add the text yourself.  If you have a good understanding of typography, I say go for it.  However, not everyone does.  Let’s  take a look at the “before and after” of a book cover I was invited to review some months ago. This first image displays the book cover with the author’s own typography.

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The before picture of book cover before I “tweaked” it. -Anita

My initial thought was  that the typography felt weak, and I could not wait to tweak the cover. However, I first needed to be in the mindset of the author.  I had to really understand what he was going for and find out what kind of story this was.  So, I read the first 30-40 pages of the novel.   After reading the pages, not only did I know what type of story it was, but I really understood why he chose to use this specific cover art.

Here is what the cover looks like today, after I implemented my typography:

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Welcome to the FIGHT: Silent Wars
Author: Glen Romero
eBook – Kindle Edition

In the seven months prior to the tweak, the author had no sales on his novel.  In the six months after I tweaked the cover, he has had 115 sales. How awesome is that!?   It’s pretty amazing how the typography can have such an impact.

 6.  Not ALL designers are ALIKE. Find a designer who is a team player

In the beginning of the design process, which I call the “first date” stage, if you have something specific in mind for your cover design, but the designer seems to resist every suggestion you make, this is a red flag, and should tell you that you might want to look for another designer before you are stuck with a cover you don’t want.  Take your time and do some good research, BEFORE you say, “Yes, let’s do it!”

A GREAT designer understands that successful cover art concepts are best reached when working closely with the author.

The cover design should meet your vision and be a true representation of the novel.  The designer is an instrument in reaching that goal.—Anita B. Carroll, race-point.com

7.  Trust the designer. Keep an open mind. Welcome new ideas. 

It is equally important for the author to welcome new ideas.  Remember, it’s all about teamwork. Sometimes I find, after reading through my client’s wish list, that I might not have a clear understanding of what they are looking for, which is why I always ask to read the first 30-40 pages.  Then, I feel inspired and understand the emotion the author is going for.The story often tells me the direction to take in the design.  It’s quite the balancing act.  If you, as the author, really want a specific object on your cover, it is very important to communicate this to your designer, so they know to focus on that.

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“B R O K E N Heart series” Graphic Design by Anita B. Carroll – anita@race-point.com

8.  Understanding the design process

When the time comes to begin discussing the details of your cover concept, if you have a strong opinion about what you want, offer as much information as possible.  Provide links and information that you think will help explain your vision.  This will really help the designer understand what you are looking for.

My number one goal is always to meet my client’s needs by creating a design they will feel both proud of and excited about to share with the world.—Anita B. Carroll, race-point.com

When working with a designer, from the start, be very up front about what you are looking for.  Avoid changing the original specs once the design process has begun.  If you originally asked for a pink elephant but then later, after the designer has started working, you decide you want it to be a pink house instead, this will only lead to frustration for the designer.  Colors are easy to change.  However, when the art takes a whole new direction, the artist has to start all over.  So be sure to inform the designer if you are unsure whether or not you want a house or an elephant, and see what they can come up with.

9.  Don’t rush the designer

In today’s competitive market, we all want everything yesterday. However, when the time has arrived to design the cover to your book, think about this.You have spent months, maybe even years, to write the story.  Does it make much sense to rush the cover design?  Does it make sense to rush THE item that FIRST interacts with your potential readers?  Does it make sense to rush the item that represents your work?

When it comes to design, it is what’s in the details, that matters. 

To allow a designer to reach his or her full potential and become inspired, it is important to give them creative freedom, and as much time to create your cover as possible. 

Don’t wait until the last-minute.—Anita B. Carroll, race-point.com

anitacarroll_below9Designed with Creative Freedom by Anita B. Carroll.

10.  Using stock photography vs original photography work

In the last year, I have noticed an emerging trend where highly digitally manipulated photo covers are becoming a popular choice when choosing the cover art.  It has reached or surpassed the level of popularity of graphic design and illustrations.  It is important to know that stock photos can be mass-produced, and are available to everyone and anyone.  Most stock photography websites have a stipulation when purchasing and using a photo for a book cover.  Some sites allow you to sell up to 250 000 or 499 999 copies before you have to purchase a new license.  This is the same as purchasing the stock photo a second time—just something to keep in mind.

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“P R O M I S E S” Stock Photo.  Cover Design: Anita B. Carroll – anita@race-point.com

With regard to using original photography work, if you are lucky enough to find an artist who is also a photographer, and offers their photography for cover art purposes, you can be assured that the photo will be used for your book only.  The cost of the photo may be a bit higher than a stock photo, but if you want one-of-a-kind cover art, it comes with a price.  You might be able to negotiate a lower price if you allow the artist to use the photo in other areas, just not for a book cover.

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 “P E B B E L E D Heart” (Anita B. Carroll Photography – anita@race-point.com

11.  Recognizing what’s best for the novel

Let’s say your cover artist is deeply submerged in the design process, and the concept you both agreed on has become a reality.  And perhaps, the cover has been completed, finalized, and approved by you.  You are completely satisfied, and have begun to advertise it.  Then, what if, your cover artist emails you, maybe with the subject line “Don’t freak but …”  You are probably thinking, “Oh-oh, what is wrong?”  In this case, the cover designer proposed to change direction of the concept entirely, and go with something new and different.  To support the proposal, the designer had done thorough research, and found that maybe this new concept would not only be a better fit, but also be keeping up with the newer trends we see in cover design these days.

As you can imagine, at this late stage of development, this was not an easy decision for the designer to make.  However, she placed the needs of the novel first.   This true story has a happy ending.  My wonderful author client, (yes, I am the designer in this story) trusted me, and she was open to the idea and willing to give me the opportunity to design the new concept. Although, she didn’t think anything could persuade her to switch the existing cover design.  Today, I am so incredibly glad I took the risk, and proposed we head in a new direction.

After all, it’s all about the story, it should always direct the concept.—Anita B. Carroll, race-point.com

The result?  My author client really liked the new cover design, and stated “it must be the cover… and so it shall.”

The cover that almost didn’t happen:

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 Release date November 2013  “Kelly and the Angel” by Author Kelly Ilebode.
Cover Design: Anita B. Carroll – anita @race-point.com

12.  A designer’s big secret

For an artist, “The moment we all wait for is the revealing of our work.”  For me it is such a personal journey. I always put my heart and soul into the creative process, completely submerging myself into your story.  For days, and weeks I will be thinking about your book, dreaming about your book. It really never leaves my mind.   So, presenting the final work is actually a bit scary.  Not knowing whether the author will love the design or hate it can be quite an emotional process.  I have so much fun creating, and as I have been known to say: THIS. IS. THE. BEST reward I could ask for:

Anita – I have no words for this, but I will try…  When you first told me that you were thinking of changing the cover I froze a bit and thought that there would be nothing that you could have done that could have swayed me from changing….Well, I was wrong….THIS IS STUNNING!!!!  Love it and it must be my new cover.—Kelly Ilebode, Author – kellyilebode.com

… I truly have the best job!

In summary, for me designing is a PASSION. 

For most artists, creating art is not a choice we make. It finds us.  We have a need to create, and as an author, looking for a cover artist, it may comfort you to know that we always try to design to the best of our capabilities.

I love what I do.  Entering the world of story telling has allowed me creative freedom when designing.  I simply can’t imagine doing anything else. – Anita B. Carroll

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To connect with Anita and see more of her work, check out:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RacePointUS

Portfolio Website: http://race-point.com

Anita B. Carroll is a visual design consultant and founder of Race-Point.com, supporting authors with all their business brand identity design needs, and offering a FRESH take on book cover design.  Anita has over 17 years of experience within the visual design field, starting out managing creative initiatives for Fortune 500 Businesses in Silicon Valley, California.  She is specialized in Heuristic Evaluation, User Interface and Experience Design with focus on online usability testing, a valuable skill when designing book covers for the rapidly growing digital market.  Anita is also an avid reader. Discovering book cover design has provided the opportunity to combine her works in photography and graphic design skills.  In her free time, you might spot her at one of the U. S. Cape beaches, biking the National Sea Shore trails, or photographing the gorgeous coastline and capturing everlasting moments with her beach portrait photography services.